Little Girl Can't Let go as Sergeant Daddy Leaves For Iraq
Some things are just not allowed when soldiers are standing in formation. One of them is 4-year-old girls.
However, there was no soldier stern enough to pry Paige Bennethum of Laureldale, Pa. from her father as he prepared to leave last July for a year-long deployment in Iraq.
Abby Bennethum captured her daughter's emotions in a photograph that she passed along to the Reading Eagle, the newspaper in Berks County, Pa. The image immediately captured many other people's emotions.
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum was preparing to depart from Fort Dix, N.J., for Iraq, leaving behind his pregnant wife and two little girls. His family was there to see him off. His commanding officer didn't have the heart to tell Paige she had to let go of her daddy.
"I didn't want to let go of him," she told NBC Philadelphia.
Sgt. Bennethum, 30, is scheduled to return home next July. Until then, he's transporting supplies across the Iraqi border. He serves with the 733rd Transportation Company based in Reading, Pa.
Abby Bennethum said she got pregnant right before her husband left for Iraq. "I've heard of deployment babies, but I never thought I'd be having one," she told the Reading Eagle. The couple's other daughter, Lena, is just 10 months old.
Staff Sgt. Bennethum got a four-day pass so he could spend some quality time with his family and they could make the two-hour trip to Fort Dix to see him off. Almost immediately upon arrival, his commanding officer ordered the soldiers to fall in.
"Gotta go," he told his family. But Paige walked up behind him in formation, grabbed his right hand and would not let go.
"I called her a couple of times, but she wouldn't budge," her mother said. She still wishes she was holding her father's hand.
"I just miss my dad right now," Paige told NBC.
Related: Iraq Vet Fights for Custody of Her Child
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.